Denver 2010 — Days 9-11 

More than two months later, and I’m still trying to wrap up our Denver trip—yes, it was that epic.

Oskar Blue Sampler

Oskar Blue Sampler. Top (l-r): ODB Barleywine; Velvet Elvis; Some High Grade Smoke; Columbian Supreme; Ten Fidy. Bottom (l-r) Priscilla Wheat; Hoppy Seconds; Redbeard's Love; Gubna Imperial IPA; S-bus Imperial Brown

After visiting New Belgium on Day 8, we headed over to Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids. We enjoyed 2 sampler trays filled with beers that don’t tend to make it into cans—these were draft specialties. The ODB Barleywine was intense, and I remember being fairly impressed with Some High Grade Smoke, especially since I’m not much of a smoked beer kind of gal (maybe someday). The imperial Redbeard’s Love was very caramely and S-bus Imperial Brown was my first exposure to the offbeat style, and I liked it.

Day 9
Once again we hit up WaterCourse Foods for breakfast, because, simply put, the food there is mind-blowingly phenomenal. Get on a plane NOW and eat there. Your stomach will thank you.

After a 6+ mile hike at Elk Meadow in Evergreen, Co., we met up with my fellow Lady of Craft Beer Micki at Great Divide. And, unfortunately, it was between these two activities that I found out that my beloved Clark’s Ale House was closing—making me a sad panda that could only be cheered up with excellent GD brews.

Day 10
Friday saw us head to Snooze for a light breakfast (1/2 orders of Bennys and coffee only for us). Our plan for the day was to go neighborhood hunting, nap in the park, have lunch at SAME Cafe, and basically just play it by ear.

We found that the neighborhood just south of the state capitol seemed to be our best bet, even with a street full of apartment complexes called Poets’ Row (I’m such a geek). I discovered a cool hair salon sporting posters for Roller Derby and discovered WaterCourse Bakery’s location, so I knew this would be a perfect spot to settle down in a few years (hair salons and bakeries … my only requirements).

Lunch at SAME (So All May Eat) Cafe was delicious and meaningful (read more about it on MelBee Says …) and reading and napping in Cheeseman Park was delightful.

Great Divide Yeti and Wild Raspberry

Great Divide Yeti and Wild Raspberry soon became one as I mixed the two samples to become the Wild Raspberry Yeti.

Ray called for Happy Hour at Great Divide, so we hoofed it over there, and we enjoyed a few samples and pints and our books. There was an excellent vegetarian food truck doing their thing right outside the patio, but we resisted the temptation and held out for WaterCourse (yes again!) and their delicious pastas for dinner.

Day 11 saw us checking out, dropping off the rental car and heading to the airport. But before we shimmied through security, there had to be breakfast, and once last beer at Boulder Beer in the airport. I enjoyed a Mojo IPA with the same southwestern chicken salad that I had a year ago, while Ray enjoyed a Planet Porter with a burger.

And then it was off to our gate to head back to Philly. Every time we leave Denver it gets a little bit harder, but one day the tables will turn and we’ll be leaving the Mile High City to go on vacation and not the other way around.




New Belgium Brewing — Denver 2010 Day 8 Part II 

The Abbey, New Belgium Brewery's "Beer"-stream trailer

The Abbey, the Beer-Stream trailer that was once commissioned to travel, sharing the wonders of New Belgium beers.

It may have been a month since I wrote about Odell Brewing and more like 2 months since we were actually at the mecca that is New Belgium Brewing, but our time spent there still seems pretty fresh in my mind. I mean, how does one forget about a 90-minute brewery tour?

We were greeted first by the classic Airstream trailer in the parking lot, and then headed straight into the Liquid Center. We checked in, got a nifty stamp on our hands and snagged our first samples, pre-tour. I had the Ranger IPA—so crisp and hoppy and full of resiny goodness. Our tour guide Seth (who is epically awesome and the tour guide to have while at New Belgium) had us gather around and enjoy the first of many samples to come (the Abbey ale … so caramely!) and told the story of how New Belgium was born out of Kim and Jeff’s basement and then grew into the current space.

New Belgium tourguide Seth and a tray of empties

Seth, our tour guide at New Belgium, was super cool and highly knowledgable.

Then it was time to head upstairs, where you can see the tops of the kettles and the beautiful mosaics that surround them. It was at the upstairs bar that Seth decided to make an “employee-owner” decision to have each of us pour our own samples from the tap (to save on labor, as he put it).

He taught us the perfect way to pour (just enough head so you get to experience the aroma appropriately) and let us have at it. I poured a perfect sample of Hoptober, the fall seasonal. Ray followed and managed to kick the keg of 1554 (a Belgian black ale). He gave it another shot, this time kicking the keg of La Folie, the sour brown. The third time was the charm and he finally managed a decent pour of Ranger IPA.

We peered in on the cellaring area, saw the lab where we waved at a bunch of the folks behind keeping the NB yeast healthy and then made our way over to the bottling/packaging facility, lovingly called the Thunder Dome, where we had yet another sample, this time Mothership Wit.

New Belgium Brewery Fat Tire Diorama

Throughout the brewery, New Belgium has dioramas like this one for Fat Tire Amber Ale.

From there, we headed back to the main building, headed up the stairs by accounting so that we could have the honor of coming back down—via a large metal curly slide. Seth suggested curling up to avoid any abrasions from the metal and riding on the left butt cheek. I tried my best while sliding down in a dress, but still managed to nail my knee pretty well. Two months later, and I still have a dark spot on my knee the size of a quarter.

We finished up in a room Seth has set aside for us with two final samples: Ranger and 1554. Seth regaled us with the story behind 1554 (watch the video!) and then sent us on our way to hang out in the Liquid Center.

Overall, it was an amazing tour, with much more than just walking around and trying samples. Seth explained all about the brewery’s environmental philosophies and more, which are just mind-blowingly awesome (and I’m not even going to try to cover it all—just read about it here).

Definitely reserve spots on the tour if you find you’re in Fort Collins. Great beer. Great time. Great social and environmental responsibility. Who could ask for more?




New Belgium Brewery Tour — Just a Taste 

Our last week in Denver in vacation, we went up to Fort Collins, mainly for Odell Brewing and New Belgium Brewing. The tour at New Belgium is 90 minutes long. Intense!

Ray recorded the entire tour on his iPhone. He’s awesome like that.

I thought you might enjoy just a taste of our tour.




Odell Brewing — Denver 2010 Day 8 Part I 

Day 8 of our Denver trip was SO epic I have to break it into 2 parts. Grab your helmets and hang onto your seats.

Odell Brewing Co.'s Tasting RoomWe headed out to Fort Collins, arriving at Odell Brewing Co. just before noon. We were familiar with the Odell brews from GABF and some of the local pubs and restaurants, but wanted to experience it fresh.

We were instantly impressed by the facility, driving up to a spacious parking lot, walking past the Odell leaf-style bike racks and along the wooden path up to the brewery and tasting room.

The tasting room was stunning, with a stone bar (marble perhaps), with a generous area for sitting and sipping. The ladies tending the bar were friendly and quick to answer any questions, and I spied a bookcase with an assortment of brewing publications, books and some boardgames (my kind of people).

Odell Brewing Co.'s Tasting Room TapsWe passed on taking a tour, and instead opted to try both the Classic Tasting Tray and the Pilot Tasting Tray, each a whopping $4 (which is a steal). On top of that, we were given 2 $4 tokens, good towards a merch purchase of $10 or more.

While Odell’s t-shirts were rather tempting (I LOVE their woodcut-style bottle labels), we opted to turn the tokens back over toward some of the charities the brewery was supporting that month.

But let us talk beer.

Classic Tasting Tray

  • Easy Street Wheat: super wheaty and refreshing, unfiltered.
  • Levity Amber Ale: a lighter take on the traditional amber. Hints of caramel, hops shine through.
  • 5 Barrel Pale Ale: hopped in 8 stages with 6 different hops. Deep golden color, perfect session pale ale.
  • 90 Shilling Ale: a cross between a Scottish ale and English pale ale. Deep amber, light fruit and nutty aroma.
  • IPA: American style, resiny flavor, slightly fruity/floral aroma. Thirst quenching with a big, bold taste. Sunshine gold in color.
  • Cutthroat Porter: nearly opaque brown with hints of red, slight head. Roasty nose. Chocolate and coffee.

Pilot Tasting Tray

  • Snowriders Ale: filtered American wheat, slightly hopped with Centennial and Amarillo. Hops shine through, making this an interesting wheat/pale hybrid. Crisp!
  • Curry wheat: base beer is a German hefe. Curry spices include kaffir lime zest and leaves, coconut, coriander, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon and fenugreek. Traditional hefe aroma in the nose, with hint of spice. Spice flavor is subtle.
  • Hast la muerte: “Austria’s answer to the oktoberfest” stated the tasting note. A lager brewed with Vienna, pilsner and crystal malts with a hint of chocolate. Deep amber in color. Malty, yet crisp.
  • Isolation Ale: winter ale made with premium malts imported from England. Malty and robust, nice caramel notes. Fairly light for a winter warmer.
  • Nitro Cutthroat Porter: nitro brings out even more roastiness
  • The Wanderer: double marzen with Brett. 11.2 percent. Fruity sour in the nose, amber in color, thin head. Balanced with the sour, nice fruity characteristic, with hints of caramel—hides the alcohol well. Ray also noted that he picked up a nice caramel flavor right at the beginning before the Brett kicked in.
Odell Brewing's "Brewed with Whole Flower Hops" sign

This sign hung above the door leading into the brewery—I'd never seen something posted like this. Very cool.

After finishing our tasting trays, we decided to share a 10 oz pint of the Bourbon Barrel Stout, which we first had at GABF. Dark, rich and thick—this was a bourbon barrel-aged beer done well, much like Golden City Brewing’s Cuvee #1 (maybe it’s just a Colorado thing).

Odell Brewing did us right. We were blown away by the beers and probably could have spent the entire day in the day room. However, we had a very important 2:00 reservation to keep …




Stranahan’s Whiskey: The Long Missed Learning Experience 

Stranahan's Whiskey BarrelI feel like I’m already at a pretty nice saturation/steady state as far as beer knowledge goes. I don’t feel the need to deliberately seek out new information, at least. Sure, the occasional new concept comes up, but as most of the developments in craft beer over the last couple years have been recombinations of existing themes (Belgian IPA, anyone?), I’m now able to have a relaxing beer life, unburdened by the task of having so much new stuff to learn and free to just enjoy the stuff.

It’s satisfying, but the thirst for learning continues, so where to next?

I’ve been a fan of whisk(e)y since before I was allowed by the powers on high to drink it, but I’ve only recently started taking the time to dissect my drams the way Mel and I pick apart every pint and dish that settles in front of us. Unfortunately, my knowledge of whisky is still lacking. What’s the process? How does one drink it properly? Is it spelled with an “e”? I won’t indulge the cliche and discuss that last part, suffice to say that as I’ll be talking about an American distillery here, that “e” will be present.

Thus far, my only exposure to good whisky has come from Scotland. Because of that, I quickly gained a bit of a prejudice against American whiskeys, a prejudice that Stranahan’s, a small distillery hidden on the outskirts of Denver, CO, was fortunately able to break. Americans, it turns out, can make one hell of a whiskey when they want to.

Stranahan's Whiskey StillWe took an enlightening and informative tour of Stranahan’s distillery the day before the member’s session at GABF. I’d forgotten how much appreciation I could gain for something I enjoy just by finding out how it’s made. As I would do the process a grave injustice by paraphrasing (distill some unhopped beer, drop it in a barrel, come back in a couple years), I’ll leave that story for the experts, but after seeing how much hands-on care this little distillery affords its precious barrels of nectar, I have a newly found admiration for the skill of a trained and practiced distiller.

Stranahan's Barrel RoomAfter the tour, our guide Kristin brought us to a bar in the bottling room, where she passed out tasters and explained in detail how to taste whiskey: Part your lips when you smell it so you aren’t overwhelmed by alcohol vapors; Hold a small sip under your tongue to shock the alcohol sensitivity away; Add scant milliliters of water to bring out flavors you might otherwise miss. I was already able to pick up notes of apples and smoke, but after taking those tips into account, suddenly a new bouquet of tastes and aromas emerged. Banana. Cinnamon. Cayenne. This is what American whiskey can do? Why didn’t anyone say something?

Ray at Stranahan's Tasting RoomUntil our walk through Stranahan’s, I was a mere whiskey liker. With the knowledge (and the bottle :D) I left with, though, I think I’ve just found myself a whole new world to explore and appreciate.




Denver 2010 — Days 5-7 

It’s actually Day 11. I’m on a plane heading back to the City of Brotherly Love and Beer, experiencing turbulence, wearing my Great Divide Hops Disciples t-shirt, sipping a Coke with too much ice. I’m listening to Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans album and trying not to rock out too hard. So it goes.

Day 5
Zebra at Denver ZooOn Sunday following GABF, Ray and I decided to take it easy. We had both sworn off alcohol until dinner, that is, until Ray ordered his first Bloody Mary from Olivéa, which has the No.1 Bloody Mary in town (good enough excuse), with breakfast. We took the day to tour the Denver Zoo, bummed that the sea otters weren’t cute-ing it up, but pleased to see the mama tiger and 4 cubs playing.

Following the zoo, we headed over to the Highlands area for dinner at Root Down, a restaurant that sources at least 80% of its produce, meat and dairy locally, serves reverse osmosis water, and is just generally hip. We made a meal of small plates, thrilled with the organic carrot and red Thai soup and the carrot gnocchi with wild mushrooms and baby zucchini. I enjoyed one of the beer specials, which was Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A (Rye IPA) from He’Brew (a brand from Shmaltz). It was my only non-local beer the entire trip (aside from GABF) and was rather good. Ray enjoyed Odell’s IPA.

Day 6
Mountain Sun ChalkboardOff to Boulder! Our first stop was the Pearl Street Mall as we waited for Mountain Sun Pub to open for lunch. We poked in and out of shops, but we were mainly there for Mountain Sun. 11:30 hit and we headed in for an early lunch: I enjoyed a Resinous Rye, while Ray had the Illusion Dweller IPA. To get to the restrooms, you walk by the brewery. I highly recommend breathing in deeply on the way to the loo … it’s heavenly.

Then, it was over to Redstone Meadery, also on Pearl Street, but on the opposite end, away from the “main street” hustle and bustle. Nestled between an auto body repair shop and an oil change joint, Redstone Meadery is a gem. We just missed the noon tour, but had the chance to sample 4 Nectars, Black Raspberry, Bosenberry, Sunshine (Apricots) and Nectar of the Hops (dry hopped with Amarillo and Centennial); 6 Mountain Honey Wines, Traditional, Juniper, White Pyment, Pinot Pyment, Blueberry and Plum;  and for a nominal fee, we purchased 1 oz tastes of Redstone’s reserves, 2005 Black Raspberry, 2004 Cyser and 2003 Boysenberry, all of which were phenomenal.

As we mulled over our samples of the Reserve selections, Ray and I played a rather un-cutthroat game of Scrabble, where French, Spanish, slang and abbreviations ran wild (we also didn’t bother to keep score). 3:00 came and it was time for another meadery tour; this one we didn’t miss. It was interesting to hear about the process, and see how the owner was able to use a variety of brewing and winemaking equipment for his meads. After listening to his entire talk, we decided to skip buying the Sunshine Nectar (which we had fallen in love with at GABF and again at the tasting room) and instead purchase a bottle of the Traditional mead.

Day 7
Triceratops TrailWe originally decided to stick around town on Tuesday, opting for yet another mind-blowing breakfast at WaterCourse Foods. But then, instead of exploring more of Denver proper, we decided to head out to Golden to hike Triceratops Trail (basically a trial run before our Thursday hike to see if my knee and healing ACL was up for it) and check out the town.

The trail was a bit hidden, but definitely an interesting 1.5 mile hike. I enjoyed geeking out over dinosaur tracks, raindrop and frond imprints, and the various flora and fauna we came across. After working up an appetite, we headed into town, and upon a suggestion from one of my fellow Ladies of Craft Beer Micki, we made a beeline for Woody’s Woodfired Pizza in Golden. We shared an excellent Whiskey King pizza, and I enjoyed Dale’s Pale Ale straight from the can (my dad always said ladies drink from a glass, but he wasn’t there, so straight from the can it was!), while Ray had yet another Odell’s winner, 5 Barrel Pale Ale.

Possibly the best thing about Woody’s was the local honey they brought to the table for the crust. We were BLOWN AWAY! I wanted to make a mead with this honey, stat! I kidded with Ray about stashing the bottle in my purse; little did we know how lucky we were going to get.

While Ray was in the restroom, the general manager came over to ask me how the pizza was (it was a new addition to the menu) and compliment me on my beer selection. I told him how much I enjoyed Oskar Blues beers and how it was hard to find them on the East Coast. I also complimented him on the honey, and that’s when I found out that not only was it local, but Woody’s had invested in the beekeeper’s business in order to generate the amount of honey the restaurant would need. Awesome! Small business helping out a small business, Love it.

I told him how much we loved the honey and found out that its a blend of 2 hives in the area. Then I found out we could buy it and I was overjoyed. We didn’t buy enough to make a mead, BUT we got a bottle for ourselves and a bottle for our foodies friends who would appreciate the local gift.

What could be better than local, delicious honey? Local, delicious BEER. A short drive took us to what looked like a house—it wasn’t. It was Golden City Brewing, proudly hailed as the “Second Largest Brewery in Golden” (the first is Coors. Yuck). We sampled tastes of everything on tap, missing out on the Evolution IPA and Mad Molly’s Brown Ale that had been cleared out by GABF, and selected a pint of Legendary Red for Ray—their most popular—and a snifter of Cuvee #1, a bourbon barrel stout.

Game of Sorry! at Golden City BrewingWe grabbed the travel edition of Sorry!, pulled up a table in the shade of the patio and settled into our beers. We were wowed by what we had in front of us, and after a lot of back and forth, I finally kicked Ray’s butt in Sorry! GCB was a real gem, and it was nice to see that even on a Tuesday afternoon between 2:30 and 5, the place could draw a crowd with pints and pitchers, and even a few well-behaved dogs.

Finishing our beers, it was back to Denver to rest and hit Euclid Hall for a late night supper. I was excited to visit, reviewing their menu online and considering the options. Unfortunately, it didn’t do it for us. Euclid Hall is not only a pub, but a rather well-known building. According to the website, Euclid Hall was built in 1883 as a house for Dr. Byron Albertus Wheeler, Euclid Hall has been home to the Masons, the Colorado Women’s Relief Corps, The Cootie Club, Maudie’s Flea Market and is even rumored to have once been the very fancy headquarters of a brothel catering to government officials, law enforcement and members of the media. The decor is cool, but the big screen TVs boasting a variety of sporting events and the schizo music selection were major turn offs.

The prices on their list of “special” beer bottles was outlandish, and their regular bottle list had a pretty hefty markup. We stuck with drafts to keep our wallets a little less squeezed; I opted for Ska Brewing’s Buster Nut Brown and Ray has Boulevard Brewing’s Tank #7, a farmhouse ale. We tried poutine for the first time, which was pretty good, and noshed on sandwiches. While the service was good and the food was perfectly fine, we found ourselves disappointed. It was as if Euclid Hall wanted to be both Tria and The Dive Bar at the same time, but it just didn’t work for us. That said, we definitely want to give Euclid Hall a second chance the next time we’re in Denver.




Denver Beer Drinkin’ 

I’m sure you’ve been dying to know what I was drinking the entire time in Denver, so here I provide you with a bit of photographic evidence to start off your Monday morning. (Note: Most of these beers are the ones I ordered … I don’t necessarily have pictures of everything Ray drank, so use your imagination). I also avoided showing duplicates.

Wynkoop's King Tut's Gold

King Tut's Gold, "Imperial Egyptian Ale" from Wynkoop

Wynkoop's London Calling IPA

London Calling IPA from Wynkoop

Wynkoop's Silverback Porter

Silverback Porter from Wynkoop

Great Divide Beer Samples

8 wonderful samples from Great Divide: Top row (l-r) Yeti Imperial Stout; Claymore Scotch Ale, Rumble Oak Aged IPA, Denver Pale Ale; Bottom row (l-r) Smoked Baltic Porter, Hercules DIPA, Hoss Rye Lager, Samurai Rice Ale

New Belgium 1554

1554, "An Enlightened Black Ale" from New Belgium

Avery's Ellie's Brown Ale

Ellie's Brown Ale from Avery

Ska Brewing's Modus Hoperandi

Modus Hoperandi from Ska Brewing

Dry Dock Brewing's U-Boat

U-Boat Hefeweizen from Dry Dock Brewing

Ska Brewing's Steel Toe stout

Steel Toe Stout from Ska Brewing

He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A

Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A from He'Brew (Shmaltz Brewing)

Mountain Sun Pub's Resinous Rye

Resinous Rye from Mountain Sun Pub

Oskar Blues' Dale's Pale Ale

Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues

Cuvee #1 and Legendary Red from Golden City Brewing

Cuvee #1 (stout aged in bourbon barrel) and Legendary Red from Golden City Brewing

Ska Brewing Buster Nut Brown and Boulevard's Tank 7

Buster Nut Brown from Ska Brewing and Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale from Boulevard Brewing

Odell's Classic Sampler

Odell's Classic Sampler: (l-r) Easy Street Wheat, Levity Amber Ale, 5 Barrel Pale Ale, 90 Schilling Ale, IPA, Cutthroat Porter

Odell's Pilot Sampler

Odell's Pilot Sampler Part 1 (l-r): Snowriders Ale, Curry Wheat, Hast la Muerte

Odell's Pilot Sampler Part 2

Odell's Pilot Sampler Part 2 (l-r): Isolation Ale, Nitro Cutthroat Porter, The Wanderer

Odell's Bourbon Barrel Stout

Boubon Barrel Stout from Odell Brewing

New Belgiums Ranger IPA

Ranger IPA from New Belgium

New Belgium's Hoptober

Hoptober from New Belgium

New Belgium's Mothership Wit

Mothership Wit from New Belgium

Oskar Blue Sampler

Oskar Blue Sampler. Top (l-r): ODB Barleywine; Velvet Elvis; Some High Grade Smoke; Columbian Supreme; Ten Fidy. Bottom (l-r) Priscilla Wheat; Hoppy Seconds; Redbeard's Love; Gubna Imperial IPA; S-bus Imperial Brown

Great Divide Wild Raspberry

Wild Raspberry from Great Divide

Great Divide DPA

Denver Pale Ale from Great Divide

Boulder Mojo IPA

Mojo IPA from Boulder

What isn’t pictured above: Rogues Double Chocolate Stout (I had that Friday night at Freshcraft and was too busy talking to remember to snap a photo) and all 90+ beers from GABF. Cheers!




GABF 2010 — The Beers 

Great American Beer Festival 2010The Great American Beer Festival: 3 days, 450 breweries, 2,000 beers. And when it came to beers that were judged, we’re talking about 3 medal types,  79 categories, 519 competing breweries, 133 judges from across the globe and 3,601 beers judged. Hot damn!

We attended the Saturday afternoon members-only session, which gave us the opportunity to mingle with fellow AHA members for 4 hours. You do no consume 2,000 beers in 4 hours; this is why many people buy multiple session tickets, but we felt one was enough.

Below is a list of beers Ray and I tried (alpha by brewery name); some breweries wowed us enough to try all their offerings, but usually we managed 2 per brewery visited. And we skipped any beer we have had previously.

  1. Mo’TCHO Risin (21st Amendment)
  2. Back in Black (21st Amendment)
  3. Volksbier (Bear Republic Brewing Co.)
  4. Cuvee de Bubba (Bear Republic Brewing Co.)
  5. Le Contrebassiste (Bell’s Brewery)
  6. Bison Organic Chocolate Stout (Bison Brewing Co.)
  7. Bison Organic IPA (Bison Brewing Co.)
  8. Bad Knees (Cambridge Brewing Co.)
  9. CaCow! (Cambridge Brewing Co.) This was my first beer of the fest and it completely blew me away with it’s amazing chocolatey goodness. A strong rival to the pint of Rogue’s Double Chocolate Stout that I had Friday evening.
  10. Arquebus (Cambridge Brewing Co.)
  11. The Colonel (Cambridge Brewing Co.)
  12. 1919 choc Beer (Choc Beer Co.)
  13. Signature Dubbel (Choc Beer Co.)
  14. Signature Quad (Choc Beer Co.)
  15. Shillelagh Stout (Cooper Canyon Brewery)
  16. Tamarillo (Dogfish Head)
  17. GraintoGlass (Dogfish Head)
  18. Canadian Breakfast Stout (Founders Brewing Co.) Woo-hoo whiskey!
  19. Devil Dancer (Founders Brewing Co.)
  20. Ad Astra Ale (Free State Brewing Co.)
  21. Stormwatch Ale (Free State Brewing Co.)
  22. Matilda (Goose Island Beer Co.)
  23. Bourbon Country Brand Coffee Stout (Goose Island Beer Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  24. Colette (Great Divide Brewing Co.) SILVER MEDAL
  25. Hades (Great Divide Brewing Co.)
  26. Belgica (Great Divide Brewing Co.)
  27. Aged Hibernation (Great Divide Brewing Co.)
  28. Glockenspiel (Great Lakes Brewing Co.) A tasty weizenbock
  29. Rye of the Tiger (Great Lakes Brewing Co.) A rye IPA, possibly my new favorite style.
  30. Bourbon Barrel Stout (Green Flash Brewing Co.)
  31. Le Freak (Green Flash Brewing Co.)
  32. Maggie (Grumpy Troll Brewery, Restaurant & Pizzeria) Okay, so I had to try a beer that has the same name as my parents’ rambunctious yellow lab. Maggie is a double ESB that impressed both of us.
  33. Iroquois Wheat Beer (Horseheads Brewing)
  34. Horseheads IPA (Horseheads Brewing)
  35. Hot-Jala-Heim Beer (Horseheads Brewing) I picked this beer up, but after finding the flavor to be too peppery for my tastes, I passed it along to Ray, who LOVED it. He found there to be a lot of chile aroma in the nose and a nice slow burn.
  36. Blanche de Hill (Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant)
  37. The Cannibal (Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant)
  38. LeBleu (Ithaca Beer Co.)
  39. Super Friends (Ithaca Beer Co.) Collaboration beer with Brewery Ommegang, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Flying Fish Brewing Co., Southampton Publick House and Valley Brewing Co., producing an American IPA fermented solely with Brett.
  40. Wee Heavy (Mad Fox Brewing Co.)
  41. Rauch E. Balboa (Manayunk Brewing Co.)
  42. Tritessa (McKenzie Brew House)
  43. La Folie Sour Brown Ale (New Belgium Brewing Co.)
  44. Imperial Berliner-Style Ale (New Belgium Brewing Co.)
  45. Garden State Stout (New Jersey Beer Co.) Ray was pleasantly surprised by this beer from North Jersey, his old stomping grounds.
  46. Tread Lightly Ale (New Planet Beer Co.)
  47. 3R Raspberry Ale (New Planet Beer Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  48. Green Menace IPA (North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery)
  49. Espresso Imperial Stout (North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery)
  50. Bourbon Barrel Stout (Odell Brewing Co.)
  51. Friek (Odell Brewing Co.)
  52. Woodcut #4 (Odell Brewing Co.)
  53. Deconstruction (Odell Brewing Co.)
  54. Coconut Porter (Pagosa Brewing Co.) The coconut comes out immediately in the nose, and better yet, it follows through for the entire time it’s in your mouth. It also tastes like real, fresh coconut, not some plasticky extract. Ray and I were both pleasantly surprised. This would make an excellent stout float. SILVER MEDAL
  55. Soaker’s Stout (Pagosa Brewing Co.)
  56. Poor Richard’s Ale (Pagosa Brewing Co.)
  57. Milk Stout (Portsmouth Brewery)
  58. Rye Not (Portsmouth Brewery)
  59. Whipper Snapper (Portsmouth Brewery)
  60. Gose (Portsmouth Brewery)
  61. Bitto Honey IPA (Prism Brewing Co.)
  62. Tea Party Pale Ale (Prism Brewing Co.) Ray tried to joke with the volunteer about the unfortunate name of this beer (brewed with tea), but got the surly response of “Not my beer” in return. Oh well.
  63. Ugly Pug (Rahr & Sons Brewery)
  64. Superfly Dunkel Rye (Ram Restaurant & Brewery)
  65. Sunshine Nectar (Redstone Meadery) A lovely session mead made with apricots. Bright and smooth.
  66. Nectar of Hops (Redstone Meadery) Yes that’s right, this is a session mead made with hops. The flavor is mellow and slightly sweet, and the hop flavor shines.
  67. Black Raspberry Nectar (Redstone Meadery) Lovely purpley-pink and slightly tart.
  68. Simcoe IPA (Rock Bottom Breweries)
  69. XXXX IPA (Shipyard Brewing Co.)
  70. Smashed Pumpkin Ale (Shipyard Brewing Co.) My first pumpkin of the fest … really knocked it out of the park with the nose and flavor.
  71. Cherry Bomb (Strange Brewing Co.)
  72. Cherry Kriek (Strange Brewing Co.)
  73. Buffalo Sweat (Tall Grass Brewing Co.)
  74. Oasis (Tall Grass Brewing Co.)
  75. Munsterfest (Three Floyds Brewing Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  76. Bin ich schwarz genug fur dich? (Three Floyds Brewing Co.) This takes the cake for funkiest name. A decent Schwarzbier.
  77. Butthead Bock (Tommyknocker Brewery)
  78. Maple Nut Brown Ale (Tommyknocker Brewery)
  79. TPS Report (Trinity Brewing Co).
  80. The Flavor (Trinity Brewing Co.)
  81. Old Growth (Trinity Brewing Co.)
  82. Stop Making Sense (Trinity Brewing Co.)
  83. Jewish Rye Beer (Triumph Brewing Co. of Princeton) Possibly the BEST rye we’ve ever had. It tasted like someone put a fresh-baked slice of rye bread in the glass. SO GOOD.
  84. Flying Mouflan (Troegs Brewery) GOLD MEDAL
  85. Northstar Imperial Porter (Twisted Pine Brewing Co.)
  86. Big Shot Espresso Stout (Twisted Pine Brewing Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  87. Fifteen (Weyerbacher Brewing Co.)
  88. Lima (Weyerbacher Brewing Co.)
  89. Jormungandr’s Revenge (Pro-Am competition entry between Dogfish Head and homebrewers Kyle Kernozek and Michelle Dickey)
  90. Red Velvet (Pro-Am competition entry between Eagle Rock Brewery and homebrewer Donny Hummel) GOLD MEDAL
  91. Ryed Hard and Put Away Wet (Pro-Am competition entry between Rockyeard Brewing Co. and homebrewer Adam Glasser) SILVER MEDAL

This list doesn’t include the 2 beers we had from the Colorado Guild table (not listed in the program), but still, 90+ beers in 4 hours time. Wow. And a lot were medal winners (medals were announced starting at 1:30, so as winners were announced, suddenly those kegs were sucked dry).

Triumph Brewing Co.'s Jewish Rye

We were floored by Jewish Rye from Princeton's Triumph (NJ represent!)

We saw a lot of ryes out there, which were fantastic. The sours were out in full force, with someone asking me “Are sours the new thing?” I’ve been on the sour bus for a solid 3+ years now, but I do think they are uncharted territory for some.

However, I have to mention Trinity Brewing: Almost all of their beers tasted the of the same sourness. And not in a good way. I actually began feeling sick to my stomach, and we were only 30 minutes into the fest at that point. Ray and I feel that something let loose through that brewery, rendering the same off, highly-acetic flavor in their offerings. It was a shame. But in better news, Ithaca Beer’s Brute took gold for the American-style sour, which made me happy. They’re a great brewery.

Cambridge Brewing Co. wowed us, as well as their neighbor at the next table, Portsmouth Brewery. And Odells…nicely done with your offerings!

Ray declared GABF better than SAVOR 2010, and in some cases I have to agree with him. SAVOR did not bring its A-game this year, which definitely brings it down a notch. Also, the space was a bit tighter than GABF, and open space is always a good thing to have at a fest. Nevertheless, we had a great time and will be back for the GABF’s 30th anniversary in 2011.




Denver 2010 — Days 3 & 4 

First off, if you’re in Denver and you see a guy exclaiming every few minutes “Holy shit I LOVE this place,” that’s Ray. I have lost count how many times he’s exclaimed this and other devotions of love to the Mile High City.

FreshcraftOur vacation continues to be amazing. Friday we toured the Capitol Hill neighborhood and had coffee at Illegal Grounds before hitching a bus to Freshcraft for the Beer for Boobs Brunch that the Ladies of Craft Beer were putting on. Half of the ticket sales went to a local breast cancer charity, as well as the sales of discounted pints. Freshcraft is just shy of being a month old, and the breakfast buffet was nicely put out. I grabbed a can of Ska Brewing’s Modus Hoperandi, a 6.8% American-style IPA that hit the spot nicely. Ray was able to snag a bomber of Ska’s Nefarious Ten Pin 8% imperial porter (for only $3!!!). We enjoyed the patio, but were missing out on what was happening inside (mainly talking, eating, drinking and raffling). We chatted with one of my fellow LadiesOCB Micki and Craige, an east coaster like ourselves whose husband is behind the film Beertuality.

Stranahan's Colorado WhiskeyAfter hanging out there, we grabbed our GABF tickets from Will Call at the Convention Center and then snagged the light rail south to Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey Distillery. Now, Ray will find some time to geek out about Stranahan’s, but I have to say, it was one of THE best tours I’ve been on. Our tour guide Kristin (or Kristen?) was full of info, and while some of us (liked Ed Stoudt—yes, we were on the tour with Ed and Carol and Randy Mosher!) kept asking questions that would have led to proprietary information being divulged, she shared everything she could about this most fascinating process.

Stranahan's Whiskey Label

We love Creedence Clearwater Revival

The tour concluded with a tasting, and even I was able to enjoy the vanilla and spice flavors (and I’m sensitive to most spirits). We decided to bring home a bottle, of which Ray was allowed to select his own after reading the labels. This is where the distillers have a little fun—jotting down comments, sometimes about what they’re listening to or thinking or doing. When Ray saw that label, he knew we had to have it.

After the tour we stayed on at the Rackhouse Pub (basically attached to Stranahan’s) and had an early dinner. My bison burger blew my mind, and the side of mac and cheese was decadent and perfectly portioned in a metal measuring cup. We caught the free shuttle back to the Convention Center, saw the mayhem as the second night of GABF began to start, and headed over to the Tattered Cover, an indie bookstore with a lot of personality.

At the Tattered Cover, we snagged a comfy couch, beverages, and settled in for a little relaxation time. Then, bringing the evening full circle, we met up with friends Jesse and Lindsey at Freshcraft for a pint and to chat about what it’s like living in Denver; they’ve lived here for over 2 years now, and are apparently loving it.

Water Course FoodsThen Saturday, GABF day, we started off with breakfast at Water Course Foods, a vegetarian restaurant that made me swoon over their homemade raspberry jam and biscuits. The NYC scramble I had (with sundried tomatoes, spinach, onions, roasted garlic and brie) was out of this world and the sweet potato home fries: YUM. Ray also had a scramble with carrots and zucchini and sheep-milk feta, and he opted to have the homemade bread, which had a wonderful beery-quality to it.

Then it was off to the AHA members-only GABF session. And you know what? That’s worth it’s OWN post.




Denver 2010 — Days 1 & 2 

As Ray snores gently beside me in bed, I thought I’d check in from Denver. We touched down Wednesday a little after 10 AM MT, wrangled our rental car and headed into the city to our budget hotel. They let us check in early (bonus!) and the room is small and tidy, with a decent AC and good water pressure (good enough for me).

Yesterday we parked the car in an affordable lot (almost unheard of in Philly) and headed straight to Wynkoop for lunch and a few pints. We sat at the bar and enjoyed salads: I had a smoked chicken salad with mango and hearts of palm, while Ray dined on a Buffalo taco salad in a crisp and non-greasy taco bowl. The food was excellent, as always at Wynkoop, and we had some phenomenal beers.

Tut's Royal Gold—WynkoopI started with Tut’s Royal Gold, an “Imperial Egyptian Ale” that is unfiltered, made with pale malts, honey, and a blend on ancient Egyptian grains and spices, like chamomile. The flavor was outstanding, and the beer was in honor of the visiting King Tut exhibit. Ray started with the Harvest Ale and loved it, but was further blown away by the Orville Belgian-style ale. He described it as plummy and a tad sour … it really knocked it out of the park for him. I had the London Calling IPA next, and then we shared a pint of the Silverback Porter on handpump (25% of all sales of Silverback goes toward gorilla preservation).

Great Divide Brewing Co.We wandered the 16th Street mall a bit, then headed over to the mecca that is Great Divide. We shared a table with a Ph.D. student (I think her name was Claire) and talked about homebrewing and living in Denver. 8 samples, 4 pints and one food-truck wood-grilled pizza later, it was time to go back to the hotel and pass out, of course, not without watching the first half of The Fifth Element first.

Snooze An A.M. EateryThursday was welcomed with an outstanding breakfast at Snooze, best breakfast joint in town. They have an excellent system for doing 1/2 orders, so I had a 1/2 order of the Backyard BBQ Benny, which was housemade corn bread topped with slow-cooked Niman Ranch BBQ beef, poached egg, smoked cheddar hollandaise and diced pickles, and a single Machu Picchu pancake: quinoa and cornmeal with fresh blueberries, sunflower seeds, agave nectar drizzle and whipped butter. De-lish.

Ray dined on the Bella Benny, containing thin slices of prosciutto, brie cheese, and perfectly poached eggs on a house made English muffin, topped with cream cheese hollandaise, balsamic glaze and arugula, and ordered 1 pancake of the day, which was in honor of GABF. The pancake was wheat based, and had a Tripel syrup infused with orange. You could really taste the beer in the syrup, bravo!

Jonesy's Eat BarWe then walked all over the Cheesman Park neighborhood, took a nap in the park, swung on swings, made note of various apartment buildings, made friends with a baby squirrel, and basically had a great time during such a beautiful day. We came back, showered, then had an amazing meal at Jonesy’s Eat Bar, a few more beers, toured the North Capitol Hill neighborhood, then came back to the hotel with the full intention of going out to meet some fellow beer bloggers at Uptown Brothers, but that didn’t happen, and that’s okay.